New York sanctions larger community solar projects

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Under Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York is racing forward toward a clean energy future – and yesterday the state took another significant step toward reaching his aggressive renewable energy goals by more than doubling the size of allowed projects under the state’s community solar program.

The New York Public Service Commission (NYPSC) endorsed the expansion, which will allow projects up to 5 MW to participate in the program, up from its previous cap of 2 MW. In explaining its decision, the commission said allowing larger projects will provide better access to solar electricity for more New Yorkers.

“Expanding access to clean energy is a primary goal of New York’s Clean Energy Standard, which will create enough renewable nergy to meet half the state’s electricity needs by 2030,” said John B. Rhodes, the commission chair. “Our decision to expand the size of eligible projects for compensation will further reduce costs and spur the development of solar power, energy storage and other localized forms of electricity generation.”

As expected, the decision received the full-throated support of solar advocates including the Coalition for Community Solar Access, the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, the Natural Resources Defense Fund, Pace Energy and Climate Center, New York Solar Energy Industries Association, Solar Energy Industries Association, and Vote Solar.

The size increase is technology agnostic except Combined Heat and Power (CHP), which is not covered by the new rules.

In addition, the commission says it will insist any potential upgrades to equipment necessary to interconnect the larger systems will be paid by the applicant and will be thorough enough to avoid causing reliability issues, as well as preventing increased costs to utilities or nonparticipating ratepayers.

In Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State address, he re-committed New York to eliminating coal from its power plants in two years, provide solar to 10,000 low-income New Yorkers and invest $200 million in energy storage research.

Leveraging $2.8 billion in private investment, Governor Andrew Cuomo says solar has grown more than 10-fold in six years and has created 12,000 jobs across the state.